Skip to main content

5 facts about fashion at the University

18 May 2017

From the clothes flaunted on campus in decades past, to some of our recent fashion connections, we take a look at the good, the bad and the ‘oh my’ of University of Sydney fashion.

Karlie Kloss photoshoot in the Herbert Smith Freehills Law Library. Image source: Stellar Magazine. 

To celebrate Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, we delve into some fashion milestones that have graced our campuses. 

1. David Jones store on campus

During the 1920s students were encouraged to dress formally for lectures, made all the easier with a David Jones store in the Holme Building (previously the Mens’ Union Building). 

2. Research into ethical fashion

Current PhD student, Lisa Heinze, is researching the environmental sustainability of fashion, having published a book ‘Sustainability with style’.

Lisa participated in an on-campus panel discussion examining eco-friendly fashion. The podcast also features Kit Willow Podgornik, the founder of WILLOW and KITX, and Jaana Quaintance-James, the Ethical Sourcing Manager at David Jones. 

3. Our alumni making waves in the fashion world 

Sydney alumna, Pip Edwards, is co-founder and director of sports-inspired label P.E. Nation. Pip is a veteran designer in the Australian fashion space, having designed for labels such as General Pants Co, Sass and Bide, and Ksubi after completing her Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) at the University of Sydney in 2003.   

Zimmerman maple collection

The Maples collection by Zimmerman. Image source: Zimmerman. 

4. Zimmermann inspired by us

Earlier this year Australian fashion label Zimmermann released a collection called The Maples, which was inspired by photos of University of Sydney Women's College students, who were housed in a building called The Maples following the First World War. Founders Nicky and Simone Zimmermann said of their inspiration:

"The starting point for the collection was a look at the life of female students attending the University of Sydney during the time. We looked at amazing photos of the period - these young women playing sport wearing traditional men's attire - cricket whites and team blazers, slouchy sweaters, oversized coats. They smiled, they had defiance and there was something a bit roguish about it all."

5. Karlie Kloss on campus 

Can you work out which spots on campus were featured in a photoshoot with Karlie Kloss earlier this year? 

Editorial student staff of Honi Soit

Editorial student staff of Honi Soit in 1949. Image reference #G3_224_0024 The University of Sydney archives. 

Campus fashion trends

1930s: the wartime era saw 1930s fashion on campus retaining the sophistication of the '20s, with hats and dapper suits still very much all the rage.

1940s: let the suave editorial staff of Honi Soi (above image) show you how things were done in the '40s.

1950s: the post-war era saw the development of new fabrics such as polyester and spandex and more emphasis on luxury clothing. Longer skirts and sportswear increased in popularity.   

1960s: For women, the '60s heralded in the era of miniskirts and tailored suit dresses à la Twiggy and Jackie Kennedy.

1970s: nothing sums up the '70s era better than moustaches and bellbottoms, and fashion on campus was no exception. 

1980s: shoulder pads, overalls and loud colours were king in the '80s, and our '80s cohort were ardent adopters.

1990s: in the grunge-era, our students strutted down Eastern Avenue in oversized shirts, plaid and high-waisted pants.